The biographical facts pertaining to Tommaso Landolfi (lan-DAWL-fee) can be briefly stated. His life was without major incidents, and he chose to live in obscurity, away from the glare of publicity. Landolfi is known for consciously establishing barriers between himself and any would-be biographer. This jealously guarded privacy amounted to something of an obsession.
He was born in Pico (in the province of Frosinone) in 1908. His mother died in his second year; as a young adolescent, he was sent away to boarding school. He later attended the University of Florence, from which he was graduated having specialized in Russian literature. He spent most of the 1930’s in Florence, participating in the literary activities of the time, publishing his early fiction. On the eve of World War II, he was arrested and spent some time in prison for activities deemed inappropriate by the regime. Landolfi’s political demeanor, however, took the form of a rather generic anti-Fascism rather than that of an overt militancy. During the war, he lived with his father in his ancestral home in Pico, which at different times during the war was occupied both by German forces and by Moroccan troops of the Free French Army. Landolfi married later in life, fathered two children, and devoted himself to literature. He divided the years after the war between Pico and Rome, where he died in 1979.
Landolfi was a unique and eccentric writer who fits into no obvious category of Italian literature, past or present. Italian fiction in the...
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